News From Terre Haute, Indiana

October 16, 2013

James Likens named Fire Person of the Year

Exchange Club hands out annual award

Sue Loughlin
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — When Terre Haute firefighter James Likens arrived at the scene of the Garfield Towers fire on May 17, 2012, a woman on the sixth floor stood at a window screaming for help.

Likens and other firefighters had been dispatched to a structure fire with entrapment.

Likens, assigned to the station at Ninth and Ohio streets, quickly set up an aerial ladder and rescued the victim from the smoke-filled apartment building.

“I carried her on my shoulder” down the ladder, he recalled Tuesday in an interview. The woman, who had suffered from smoke inhalation, was transported to a hospital.

The fire displaced Garfield Tower residents and sent several to hospitals; one person later died from his injuries.

For his  “bravery and heroic actions on May 17, 2012” during the Garfield Towers fire, Likens — a 19-year veteran with the Terre Haute Fire Department — received the Exchange Club Fire Person of the Year award.

He was recognized during an Exchange Club program Tuesday. The Terre Haute Fire Department recommends the award recipient.

“If it wasn’t for the heroic and unselfish actions of this firefighter, that victim would have perished,” Fire Chief Jeff Fisher wrote in a letter nominating Likens for the award.

Likens, 43, said he enjoys “being part of a team” and the camaraderie in the firehouse. “It’s still fun to get up and go to work — not many people can say that.”

He said he was happy to receive the award, although he was a little reluctant when it came to the attention that goes with that award.

He is married and has three sons.

According to Fisher, Likens “is the type of person who comes in and does his job, asks for nothing and then goes home. He’s a good employee.”

The award was “well-deserved,” Fisher said.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or